The Attention Economy Mind Rot

Ice cream so good!

Stephen Moore

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Image: Midjourney

Balloon! Pop pop pop pop pop.

Just when you think the depths of the internet can’t sink any lower, you’re reminded that we’ve got a long way to go until we hit rock bottom.

The latest viral trend to surface on TikTok — which could be the most braindead yet (and yes, I’m aware people ate TidePods) — has me questioning the sanity of humanity. That trend is NPC streaming.

If you’re unfamiliar, let’s pull it back a little. An NPC is a phrase used in video games, meaning a non-playable character. Essentially these are characters you interact with in a game world but never take control of. They often break conversational norms, repeating the same few lines or actions over and over. And with the state of modern games on release day, many can’t even manage that, preferring to glitch, T-pose, or remain eerily silent. In sum, NPCs are very uncanny valley.

And recently, someone had the great idea to translate this concept into a way to make money.

Gang gang. Gang gang. Gang gang.

Enter Pinkydoll, the first person to go viral with NPC streaming. If you need a sample, here’s a whole hour of it. I warn you; it will melt your brain. And that sneak peak is just the tip of the iceberg too — Pinkydoll has done streams that last over five hours.

Five hours of her sitting, holding a pair of straighteners (which she sometimes uses to pop the icons that appear on the screen), repeating the same phrases and emotes in response to the icon viewers pay to send her. If you just asked “who would pay for such a thing,” well, it turns out to be a money cheat code. According to an article in The Guardian, Pinkydoll has made $2000–3000 per stream. When added to her other streams across Instagram and OnlyFans, that number can hit over $7000 per day. Seven thousand dollars. Every single day.

Pinkydoll

You’ve got to hand it to her. Honestly, I respect the hustle. Having to repeat five catchphrases for more than 2 minutes would take effort and commitment; to do so for hours on…

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